Recipes

One Week of Home Cooked Meals

By the time I get home from my commute all I want to do is eat. Time and time again I’ve driven to a fast food drive-thru or heated up a frozen burrito. It gets old after awhile and my waist line doesn’t appreciate it. I decided to cook a home cooked meal for one work week straight by only using what I had in the pantry. My goal was to try new meals and save some cash money.

For this experiment I decided to pull out one of my cookbooks and plan out a week work of meals that matched what I had in the pantry. For some dinners I just winged it and hoped for the best.

I will mark the recipes that were used from another source and link them to the cook’s site and not list it here so they get credit. 🙂

Sunday – Moroccan Meatloaf

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Moroccan Meatloaf with garlic potatoes.

 

I started the week off with a hit. Dillon said, “This is the best meat loaf I’ve ever had.” I enjoyed this meal too. The slight hint of ginger and cinnamon was my favorite part. Dillon gave this meal a five out of five stars. This recipe was found in Melissa D’Arabian’s cookbook “Ten Dollar Dinners” and you can find her recipe here.

Monday – Chicken a l’Orange

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Chicken a l’Orange

Once again I turned to D’Arabian’s cookbook to try my hand at some French cuisine. Her recipe called for orange concentrate and all I had was orange juice. I decided to wing it and although the glaze was thinner than it was suppose to be it wasn’t too bad. I also used skinless chicken breasts instead of the suggested skin-on, bone-in breast. Dillon gave this meal a 3 1/2 out of five stars. Check out the recipe here.

Tuesday – Quinoa Tabouleh

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I’m a huge fan of quinoa. I have a recipe for an enchilada quinoa casserole that is to die for. (I’ll share it some time soon). Tuesday I decided to research the best way to make Tabouleh since I had never made it before. I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients for D’Arabian’s Tabouleh so I improvised and made my own. I had to used canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh and I was out of olive oil. I basically had quinoa, parsley, diced tomatoes and lemon. The end result was just O.K. Dillon gave this meal a two out of five stars. Can’t win them all.

Wednesday – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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I couldn’t go a whole week without cooking my all-time favorite meal! It’s simple, easy and oh so yummy. I boiled water and cooked the spaghetti noodles for 10 minutes. While that was cooking I browned ground beef with onion and garlic. I cheated a little and used a jar of marinara sauce. (I was in a hurry that night) I topped it off with some cheese and fresh parsley. Nothing fancy but still a four out of five from Dillon.

Thursday – Korean Chicken and Rice

An easy dish I turn to on a busy day is a Korean Beef Bowl with rice. We both love it and it takes 15 minutes to make. I started to wonder what it would taste like if I swapped out the ground beef for chicken.

1/2 a pound of boneless chicken breast, cut into thin chunks
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add diced chicken and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes and sesame oil in a bowl.
  3. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken in the skillet. Allow it to simmer until heated through.
  4. Serve over steamed rice.

I was so hungry this night that I forgot to take a picture. It was a glorious meal though.

Friday – Mexican Casserole

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Dillon asked me to make some type of Mexican casserole. So I opened up the pantry and went for it. I crossed my fingers and prayed it would be edible.

  • 2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 can  corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of enchilada sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Half of a chopped red onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips into a glass 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Mix the black beans, corn, enchilada sauce, garlic, bell pepper, onion, salsa and cooked beef in a bowl.
  4. Spoon half of the mixture over the crushed chips and then sprinkle with cheese. Take the other half of the mixture and place it over the cheese and then top with the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes and let stand for approximately 5 minutes.

 

I had a lot of fun cooking every night and hope to keep it up in the future. Tonight I’m throwing in the apron and dining out.

-Kayla

Three On-The-Go Breakfasts

Mornings are the worst? Am I right? I’m a hit the snooze button four times; run a comb through my hair; this cosmic brownie will have to do for breakfast type of person. I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I have struggled with eating breakfast for years now. I always choose sleep over breakfast. Always.

Eating breakfast helps boost your metabolism for the day and keeps your energy levels going for the rest of the morning. Lately, my metabolism has slowed down. Maybe it’s the cosmic brownies for breakfast, lack of exercise or dare I say it, age. Either way I decided to make a change to my morning routine and these are the results.

Preppy prep

I don’t know how many articles I’ve read about food prep but they all list the benefits of meal prepping. I thought the idea was overwhelming at first. I told myself that I would wake up early and cook breakfast that day but you guessed it, it never happened. If you devote at least an hour out of your Sunday to prep for the week you will be way more successful at breakfast choices throughout the week. *I suggest you plan the hour around your favorite football game. Wouldn’t want to miss that. *

 

So what did I make?

Eggs

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I hard boiled eggs for a good source of protein and kept them in a container in the fridge. Some days I eat them with avocado or slice them and put them on a whole wheat bagel.

Overnight Oats

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This overnight oatmeal has bananas, cinnamon and peanut butter.

 

I love oatmeal! It always fills me up and it’s cheap. I use to eat the individual packaged instant oatmeal but it has a ridiculous amount of sugar in such a small portion. So I started making overnight oats. Pour 1/2 cup of oats in a jar, add one cup of milk (I used almond) and then top with fruit, nuts or coconut. Close the lid and leave it in the fridge overnight. The results are a nice tasty breakfast in the morning.

Smoothie Packs

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There are so many different options when it comes to smoothies. One of my favorites right now is a blueberry and banana smoothie. I just place the ingredients in a plastic baggie and toss in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. If you plan on using bananas I suggest slicing it before it’s frozen to help it blend better. I prefer to buy frozen fruit and separate it into the baggies. For a liquid I use milk but you can also use water. Adding Greek yogurt makes it creamy.

My other go-tos that don’t involve prepping is Greek yogurt, a protein bar or protein shake. I currently love Premier Protein.

-Kayla

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

I wanted to bake a cake, but I didn’t want to take the time to make it from scratch. But I still wanted to feel like I was eating something a little more special than a cake from a box.

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I ended up taking my chocolate cake mix and turning it into a two layer raspberry filled chocolate cake.

The steps were pretty simple. Follow the instructions to make the batter. Bake and let completely cool. Once cooled you can cut the cake in half to make the two layers.

As for the filling, it was also pretty straight forward. I found the raspberry filling in the baking aisle, next to the other fillings you typically use for pie; such as apple and pumpkin. All I really had to do was spread it on the bottom layer to the thickness I wanted. (I had a small can of the filling and used just about all of it). Then it was just a matter of laying the top layer back on with out it falling apart.

All that was left was the decorating. It was just a simple application of butter cream frosting topped with some fresh raspberries for presentation purposes.

It turned out as expected. It’s one of the more moist cakes I’ve made to date. Plus who passes on the combination of chocolate and raspberries, am I right?

Happy baking!

-Sara

Magic Bars

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This was my first time making this and it turned out pretty close to our mom’s version.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • package of graham crackers (honey or cinnamon)
  • container of sweet condensed milk
  • half a stick of butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 for metal pan, 325 for glass pan.

Put butter in pan, place pan in oven long enough for the butter to melt.Once melted, remove from oven.

 

Smash graham crackers and press them into the pan. You can use a rolling pin or just smash them with your hands in the packaging like I did. Be careful not to burn yourself because the pan will be hot. Use as many graham crackers it takes until you have the bottom of the pan covered.

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Next you will evenly distribute the chocolate chips, sweet  condensed milk and coconut.

If you want, you can always add more then a 1/2 cup of each. It’s not going to hurt anything by giving it a little extra love.

All that is left it to let it bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Cut into bars and enjoy.

Happy baking.

-Sara

Baked Spaghetti Squash and Shrimp

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Spaghetti is my all time favorite meal. It’s fast, easy and oh-so delicious. Lately, I’ve been concocting healthier alternatives to my favorite meals. Spaghetti squash was on sale at my local Neighborhood Market so I bought it and decided to create a divine dinner with it.

I have never bought, cooked or ate spaghetti squash before so this was a foreign endeavor for me. After some brief Googling of how to cook this yellow thing I came to the conclusion I would make shrimp and roasted spaghetti squash and the results were fantastic.

What you need:

One medium spaghetti squash

One pound of deveined shrimp

Olive Oil

One clove of garlic

Half of a diced tomato

One half teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

One half teaspoon of parsley

One half teaspoon of basil

One tablespoon of white cooking wine

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To begin pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. While that’s heating up line a baking sheet with foil. Slice the the squash horizontal, not vertical. This makes it easier to create the “noodles” later. Take out the seeds and place the squash rings on the baking sheet. Bake the squash for 40 minutes.

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Heat up a skillet on the stove with the olive oil and toss in the garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant add in the shrimp. Sprinkle in the rest of the ingredients. *CONFESSION I really just eye balled the measurement for the white cooking wine*

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Once the shrimp is cooked set aside to cool.

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Take your squash out of the oven, grab a fork and start pulling the squash apart. It will look similar to spaghetti noodles. Place the noodles on a plate and top with the shrimp. Voila! You could even mix in a nice marinara sauce to really give it the spaghetti feel.

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What are some foods you use to substitute for your favorite meals? Leave me a comment below!

-Kayla

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

It’s officially pumpkin season so to start it off, I made pumpkin bread.

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This recipe is an adaption of a banana bread recipe that was on the packaging of some flour I bought a while back.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin (I didn’t use the whole can for the bread. I used the rest in a pumpkin pie)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

 

Directions

Heat oven 350 F. Grease bottoms only of 2 (8×4 inch) loaf pans or 1 (9×5 inch) loaf pan.

In a large bowl mix the sugar and butter

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Add eggs, pumpkin, milk and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

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Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chips until just moistened. Pour batter into pan(s).

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Bake 8 inch loaves for 1 hour, 9 inch loaf 1 1/4 hours or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.

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Loosen sides of loaves from pans, remove to cooling rack. Let cool for about an hour before slicing. Each loaf makes 16 slices.

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Happy Baking!

-Sara

 

Our Mom’s No-bake Cookie Recipe

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Growing up this was one of my favorite treats that our mom would make us. Its sweet chocolate-y goodness doesn’t take very long to make either. So if your sweet tooth is in a hurry, this is the right cookie for you.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tbsp coco
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup of coconut or peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1 tsp salt

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While I let the butter melt in milk, I combine the oats, coconut and salt in a measuring cup and then set aside for later.

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Once the butter is melted I add the sugar and coco to the pan. Stir constantly until brought to a boil. The most important part of the recipe is how long the mixture boils. It needs to boil for exactly 2 1/2 minutes. Too short and the cookies will be sticky, too long and the cookies will be dry.

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After it has boiled for 2 1/2 minutes, remove from heat. Add the oat, coconut and salt combination to the chocolate mixture along with the vanilla.

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Stir until oats are completely covered. Spoon out onto aluminum or wax paper. Let them dry and enjoy.

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-Sara

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